Expressions of gratitude in animals

By Matthieu Ricard on February 17, 2014

Primates often show gratitude in various ways toward those who have taken care of them. A recent video shows how a chimpanzee, who had been brought back to health from the verge of death, hugs the legendary ethologist Jane Goodall for a long time before heading to the jungle where she was being released.*

One of the pioneers in primatology, Wolfgang Köhler, one evening saw that two chimpanzees had been forgotten outside under a driving rain. He hurried to go to their rescue, managed to open the locked door of their shelter, and stood aside to let the chimpanzees regain their warm, dry bed as quickly as possible. But, even though the rain continued to stream over the bodies of the chimpanzees chilled to the bone, and even as they continued to show their unhappiness and impatience, before going to the comfort of their shelter, they turned to Köhler and embraced him, one around his chest and the other around his legs, in transports of joy. It was only after thus exuberantly showing their appreciation that they hurried to the welcoming straw of the shelter.**

*The video of the Chimpanzee with Jane Goodall can be seen on Youtube

** Köhler, W., & Winter, E. (1925). The Mentality of Apes. K. Paul, Trench, Trubner

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